Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result. Our study included 18 different measurements—weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels, sleep quality, well-being, etc.—from 15 people. (One subject was dropped.) That study design is a recipe for false positives.
Think of the measurements as lottery tickets. Each one has a small chance of paying off in the form of a “significant” result that we can spin a story around and sell to the media. The more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win. We didn’t know exactly what would pan out—the headline could have been that chocolate improves sleep or lowers blood pressure—but we knew our chances of getting at least one “statistically significant” result were pretty good. –i09
Jonathan Franzen, Xiaolu Guo, Andrew Solomon, Ha Jin and others stood outside the main New York Public Library to demand that China free Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and professor Ilham Tohti from prison, stop restricting other writers and have the confidence to allow free speech.
The authors took a group photo with the crowd holding placards spelling “free expression” in English and Chinese. Organizers said the photo will make its way into China via virtual private network services that let Internet users jump the Great Firewall.
Protest organizer PEN American Center said this week’s BookExpo America features a China delegation of hundreds of people “hand-picked by the Chinese government.” –ABC News
Reading this made me wonder what a post on every Romance reader’s “golden age” with the genre would look like. We talk a lot about when people discovered the genre, but is that each reader’s highest experience and appreciation of the genre? Or is there a certain year or set of years that serve as the pinnacle of every reader’s engagement with a genre?
I’ve gone back to reading some mainstream and literary fiction in recent years. Why? Because these days many of those books tell great stories—often with speculative elements—and are about more than neuroticism and angst. Such authors as Karen Russell, Michael Chabon, and James McBride write the kind of stories science fiction readers want, even if their books don’t have spaceships on the cover. Literary publishing still gives science fiction no respect, but it’s been stealing from the genre nonetheless.
In an interview on the Coode Street Podcast, Karen Joy Fowler discussed the ongoing question of whether she writes science fiction. Her conclusion? “I don’t know if I write science fiction or fantasy, but I’m writing for science fiction and fantasy readers.” These days there are lots of other writers out there emulating Fowler. –Strange Horizons